Lifestyle changes can be as effective as drugs or counselling to treat many mental illnesses, which could make individuals less likely to depend on home care, scientists have said.
Things such as getting more exercise, spending time in natural surroundings and helping others could be just as effective as more traditional methods when it comes to treating illnesses such as diabetes and obesity.
Dr Roger Walsh at the University of California, said that tender loving care offers significant psychological benefits but is not sufficiently appreciated, taught or used.
"In the 21st century, therapeutic lifestyles may need to be a central focus of mental, medical and public health," he added.
Meanwhile, researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital found that in the US alone, Americans over the age of 50 will lose 86 million healthy years of their lives due to the effect the obesity epidemic is having on knee osteoarthritis.